CITB focuses on chronic illness. I have personally experienced and live with the chronic illness of substance abuse. This is a guest post by Caleb Anderson of RecoveryHope.org. RecoveryHope.org was started by Caleb and Molly Anderson after Caleb received treatment for opiate addiction. Molly has made it her mission to learn how to help Caleb fight his battles and support him in his recovery. Together they now help others by providing research and resources about the many challenges of overcoming drug and alcohol addictions.
We thank Caleb and Molly for their contribution to CITB. We know you will enjoy their insights. Please visit their website RecoveryHope.org for more information on substance abuse and recovery.
There are plenty of ways relationships can become strained. It’s possible to have a strong, healthy relationship, but it’s not easy. It takes work.
When you add an addiction to the relationship, things get much harder. Substance abuse can challenge even the strongest relationship, and many couples break up over it. Thankfully, there are actions you can take to both help your partner and save your relationship. But before you can help, you need to know whether your partner has a problem.
Substance Abuse Leads To Unhealthy Relationships
How do you know if your partner is struggling with addiction? Medical News Today lists a number of signs and symptoms of addiction to watch for, including: bouts of moodiness, bad temper, poor focus, a feeling of being depressed and empty, frustration, anger, bitterness, obsession, denial, etc.
The Mayo Clinic has an exhaustive list of signs related to specific addictions, including marijuana, opiates, and cocaine.
Having a relationship with an addict can lead to pain and stress. It can also lead to heartbreak because addiction can lead to infidelity. Swift River explains this is due to several factors, including a higher chance of risky behavior such as sex with others. Some even use sex as payment for whatever they need.
How You Might Be Enabling
Whether it’s secrecy, anger, or infidelity, the addict is responsible for their own behavior. However, there are ways you might be enabling your partner’s addiction. Enabling is when you help your partner to continue abusing substances even if you don’t realize it. Here are a few ways you might be contributing to the addiction:
- Ignoring evidence that they have a substance abuse problem.
- Helping them avoid the consequences of addiction.
- Buying or using the same drugs and alcohol along with them.
- Failing to hold them responsible when you’ve set boundaries or rules that are not met.
Even if you mean well, you can enable addiction because your partner has no reason to change. Addicts often need to get treatment or hit “rock bottom” before they realize how bad things have become due to their addiction. Protecting your partner makes it harder for them to get help.
Helping Your Loved One
Then how can you help your partner get better? Many people think about staging an intervention, but as Psychology Today notes, these should be last-ditch efforts as there’s no evidence they help an addict in the long-run. Instead, you need to politely and gently convince your partner to go to a doctor or therapist. Focus on how it’s hurting the relationship and ask, not tell, if they would consider getting help.
Once they have entered addiction recovery treatment, you need to be loving and accepting of your partner. Work with your loved one to find healthy habits and activities. This can mean social activities with friends who don’t use as well as healthy ones like yoga, exercising, or just taking a nice walk. Not only will this help your partner get better, but it can heal the relationship as well.
Don’t Let Addiction Ruin Your Relationship
The worst thing you can do when facing your partner’s addiction is to ignore it. This actually enables substance abuse. Instead, understand how addiction impacts your relationship. Then you can focus on getting your loved one the help they need to get sober. By helping your partner, you are also helping your relationship.
Please visit RecoveryHope.org for more information on substance abuse and recovery
Having fibromyalgia can often feel like living on a roller coaster. When your symptoms are low, you push to get as much done as you can. But doing more than the body can tolerate, you intensify your symptoms and crash. You rest to reduce symptoms, but then, you feel frustrated and try to make up for lost time. This may plunge into another round of over-activity leading to another crash.
The key to successfully managing and living with fibromyalgia is rest. Most people with fibromyalgia tend to push themselves beyond their available daily strength. Often, this results in a push/crash cycle – doing way too much one day, then taking multiple days to recover. Doing beyond what the body can tolerate, you intensify your symptoms and crash. You then rest to reduce symptoms, but then, you feel frustrated and try to make up for lost time. You then plunge into another round of over-activity leading to another crash.
When it feels as though you have a million and one things to do it is easy to end up doing too much.
There are two things that you need to address to pace yourself successfully.The first is the feeling of needing to do everything now. You know, the voice in your head that tells you all these things that you need to do? The one that won’t stop and will make you stress out. Making you feel guilty until you tick everything off your to-do list? You must learn to shut that little voice up. You must change your priorities and expectations. Nothing is more important than your own health. Things can wait! – It’s not the end of the world if you don’t do things immediately. Many times it doesn’t matter if they get done at all.
You need to find a way to stop yourself from getting carried away. Starting a task and feeling like you have to keep on going until it is finished. This has to do with changing expectations. Finding ways to remind yourself to stop before pushing yourself past the breaking point.
Staying in the pocket
One way to explore the idea of limits is through the concept of the strength pocket. You can think of your situation in terms of three factors:
- Available strength: The strength you have. It is limited, and is replenished by rest and food;
- Expended strength: The strength you lose through physical, mental & emotional exertion;
- Resulting Symptoms: fatigue, brain fog, pain, etc.
If you expend more strength than you have available, you will intensify your symptoms. This is called living outside the pocket.
Living in the pocket.
- If you keep your expended strength within the limits of your available strength, you will gain control over your symptoms.
Here are several ways to stay in the pocket:
- Write Down Everything That You Need To Do
Feeling the need to do everything immediately is because of worry that you will forget to do it. Writing down a to-do list helps to remember everything. You instantly feel more in control while reducing your stress.
- Prioritize Your To-Do List
Once you have your to-do list in writing, it is easy to see everything that you need to do. It instantly feels more manageable. Then prioritize what needs to be done first and what can wait.
[Tweet “If you accept your limits, you can reduce symptoms”]
- Ask For Help
Before you do anything, see if there is anything on your list that you can ask for help with. Don’t try and do absolutely everything by yourself. Asking for help can be daunting and embarrassing but, trust that people want to help you when they can.
- Choose One Task Per Day
Decide what task on your to-do list is a top priority. Choose only the top one to work on completing each day. Think about whether you can achieve it in one day and if not, break it up over two or more.
- Do You Need To Forgo Doing Something Else
If a task is particularly tiring, even when you limit yourself to doing it for a short duration, you may need to ask yourself if there is something else you can forgo doing. We only have limited strength resources (A/K/A Spoons) each day. For example, you might decide not to do your usual daily walk so that you have more strength to invest in another task.
- Set A Timer During Tasks
Limit yourself to only doing something for a set period of time and stick to it. This will be individual (some will be able to do more than others) and task dependent but 10 minutes is a good place to start. Using a timer stops you from getting carried away and is an auditory reminder to take a break. If you simply use a clock or watch, it is easy for time to run on without you realizing.
- Time Rest Too
Do 10 minutes work and then set your timer for 20 minutes of rest. Error towards doing more rest than work. Setting a timer ensures that you rest for that amount of time.
- Listen To Your Body
Becoming attuned to your body is so important. You will begin to learn and pick up on little signs that are your cue to stop what you are doing. This is when you need to stop. If you don’t, progressively you will become more exhausted, ache with intense pain, feel nauseous, in addition, feeling restless and irritable. If you reach this point you have done too much and you will ‘pay for it’.
- Appreciate The Small Achievements
Instead of thinking about what you still need to do, think about how amazing it is that you have managed to achieve a small step towards reaching your overall goal. It’s all about changing and managing expectations. This becomes easier to do when you start to achieve your goals and fell well doing so.
- Build Up Slowly
The huge benefit of pacing is that when you get it right you will begin to feel better. It is important to resist the temptation to do too much. You need to have discipline and keep on using all of the above techniques, even when you suddenly have a day where you feel better. When you start to have more good days than bad, that’s the point when you can start to do a little more. Make anything extra that you do quantifiable. For example, do an extra 5 minutes only. It might feel frustrating when you want to do more than this but it will prevent you crashing and undoing all of your hard work. [Tweet “Having fibromyalgia can often feel like living on a roller coaster.”]
- What If I Don’t Feel Better From Doing All Of This
The unfortunate answer is that you are probably still doing too much. Your life is unbalanced and needs to include more rest and you may benefit from doing even less until your body is stronger. I can’t tell you how to specifically go about that. You are the only person who knows that answer. It’s down to you as to whether you think it is worth slowing down even more.
In today’s world, it has become imperative to upgrade. Society has placed a high regard on updating your phones, your television, your computers and even your home. In a time where advancing everything that is held dear, riddle yourself this: have you remembered to upgrade yourself? Grab the tools because, for everyone, it is far overdue.
Taking the time to “upgrade yourself” is the far least monetarily taxing thing you can do. It can also become the most arduous of tasks. Is it simpler to deliver a computer to the shop than it is to look within and find what needs to be fixed? Is it easier to pay the repairman, for adding memory, when you need to work on your own? Do you allow yourself the same consideration you do your own inanimate objects? If you answered “no”, then ask yourself why.
Make it a goal to acknowledge your own faults, at least weekly. Name a day of the week that will be used to take ten minutes out of your busy schedule and stick to it. Forget the computer for a moment, and actually put a pen to paper and write a life changing goal to work on for the week. Don’t cheat yourself, as it would be like telling the repairman “it only crashes once in a while”, when it is a constant issue. Challenge yourself with provoking the truth. The following week, do the same, and compile it to the previous week’s goal. Don’t just write about it. Put a full aim into becoming the person it is your duty to be.
Continue in this way until you have a full upgrade of your sense of self and the newly acquired skills become your nature. When you have run out of ideas, enlist the help of someone who knows you best. Accept the constructive criticism graciously, after all, you wish to fix what’s wrong right?
Don’t become discouraged when you find a lot more than you expected. Everyone has faults inside themselves. The question is, do you have the strength to do a full upgrade where it really counts?
Don’t follow, lead.
Don’t start, finish.or even,
Don’t sit still, move.
Don’t fit in, stand out.
Don’t sit quietly, speak up.